The US state of Massachusetts could increase its climate ambitions and raise its offshore wind target by an additional 2.4GW should a new climate bill be signed into law.
This week, the bi-partisan compromise climate policy bill was sent by lawmakers to the governor's desk, which would see the state add roughly 5.6GW of offshore capacity to the grid if rubber-stamped.
So far, Massachusetts utilities have agreed to purchase more than 1.6GW of offshore wind power, made up of Mayflower Wind’s 804MW project and the 800MW Vineyard Wind 1 site, although permitting delays have slowed down construction of the latter.
The new compromise bill (S 2995) mandates and shapes how Massachusetts would achieve its target of net-zero emissions by 2050, with statewide emissions limit targets set for every five years – instead of the current 10-yearly review.
In particular, the bill calls for mandatory emissions limits for six sectors of the economy, namely electric power, transportation, commercial and industrial heating and cooling, residential heating and cooling, industrial processes, and natural gas distribution and service.
If asigned by Governor Charlie Baker, the bill would put Massachusetts alongside other states like California and New York in terms of ambitious emission reductions – requiring emissions to be at least 40% lower than 1990 levels by 2030.
The American Clean Power Association’s director of eastern state affairs, Andrew Gohn, said the move was “forward-thinking”, and added: “The Commonwealth has long been a leader in embracing clean, affordable energy and this new legislation means that more of the jobs and investments associated with zero-carbon electricity will belong to Massachusetts.”
For the first time in the state’s history, the definition of environmental justice has also been embedded into the bill providing new tools and protections for affected neighbourhoods.